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tv   British Jewish  BBC News  December 4, 2021 9:30pm-10:00pm GMT

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as the omicron variant spreads — from tuesday all arrivals will need a pre—departure covid test. we are seeing an increasing number of cases linked to travel and we have always said we will act swiftly if we need to, if the changing data requires, and that's why we have decided to bring in this change on predeparture tests. the parents of a teenager accused of shooting dead four us high school students have pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. and president biden and president putin will hold talks on tuesday as russia's military build up on the ukrainian border sends tensions soaring. now on bbc news, tom brada explores the record spike in anti—semitism facing dues in the uk. you may find some of the language in this programme offensive. i'm tom, and i'm a bbc
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journalist who also happens to be british and jewish. (bleep) jewish. i am proud of who i am, but the past year has been complicated and sometimes frightening. one of them came up the driveway there and started attacking me. in the first six months of 2021 there was a record spike in anti—semitism. from controversy around the middle east to conspiracy theories and the toxic environment of social media, manyjewish people are questioning how safe it is to express who they are. and i was like, i'mjewish. and i said i'm black and jewish and i can tell you that is not the case. i want to find out what is going on, and i'm starting in burnley where ashley was the victim of an extreme example of anti—semitism. hi there. good afternoon. how are you doing? nice to meet you. this is your granddad. yeah, the smart one on the stairs is me.
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in terms of yourjewish heritage, which side — what's yourjewish heritage? conversion. and when did you convert? 16. what made you feel a connection tojudaism? it was a deep interest in it and they were so welcoming. when did you first start wearing traditional jewish garb? when i first started converting. did you start getting unwanted attention? yeah, quite a bit... ..from that point? yeah, people kept asking me personal questions like have you been circumcised and all that. overall, presenting as someone who is visiblyjewish, has that brought more problems with it than it's brought nice kind of curiosity? i have had a lot of nice curiosity and stuff and i've had a lot of unwanted attention as well. do you ever feel tempted to not wear your skullcap or to dress differently... no, no, nota chance. ..so you're not a target? no, not a chance. i converted to the religion, i am proud of being jewish, i am not going to stop it for anybody. in march 2020 ashley was attacked by three men just outside his home. the assault took place
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in front of his mum. they were going where that blue car is now, but it was a different coloured car, and started shouting, "dirtyjew, look at that dirtyjew." and then one of them came on the driveway and started attacking me, and i was full of blood, and i was still with the adrenaline pumping. how were you in the immediate aftermath of what happened ? me vision went in me left eye, face full of blood, busted lip — everything. how long were you dealing with the physical injuries and... about three or four weeks. and any mental injuries off the back of it? ptsd. it took me a while to go back outside again. quite a lot of people came to me and said are you 0k, do you need anything, stuff like that — it was really heartwarming. what does yourjewish identity mean to you? everything. absolutely everything. it's my life. and how does it make you feel that something you hold clearly so dear to you,
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something you love about yourself is something that other people... hate. ..use as a target. it hurts me a lot, because end of the day what we all want is just to live our lives in peace — never going happen though. i want to find out why there has been a rise in anti—semitism, what the identity of being jewish plays in people's lives and whether they sense that people feel prejudiced towards them because of that. i also think anti—semitism has started to take a different shape. it only takes going on the web for like five minutes before i can come across, like, a bottomless pit of anti—semitic conspiracy theories. and whenever you come across this kind of prejudice it can make you question your identity and make you feel a little bit ashamed of who you are. and that is something i obviously really don't want to feel. so have things got worse forjews in this country? to find out, i'm meeting up with dave rich, head of policy
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at a jewish charity called the community security trust. the cst gathers reports from members of the public and shares data with several police forces around the uk, keeping a record of how many anti—semitic incidents take place each year. and so recently there has been a lot about anti—semitic hate crime in the news, what is the latest report that you have produced? sadly during the recent conflicts in israel and gaza in may this year, we recorded over 600 anti—semitic incidents in a one—month period, which is more than we have ever seen in a single month period since cst has been doing this work, which is since 1984. there was roughly four times the number of incidents we should have seen in that kind of period. so what is different this time around, why the surge has been so big compared to other spikes when they have been flare—ups in the middle east conflict? i think we can't ignore
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the role of social media in fuelling these spikes every time. perhaps one of the reasons why this spike was so big this time was because social media isjust that much more pervasive in society, that much more image—based, and unfortunately in lots of different ways, it can drive really extreme positions and attitudes and even drive hate in the off—line space because of what people are seeing online. one of the things that was really different and quite worrying this time around was the number of anti—semitic incidents reported to us from schools and from universities. around one in four of all the incidents we recorded during that month of the conflict happened in an educational setting. the impact on the young people that experienced that anti—semitism is awful. i also wanted to ask dave if he could define when legitimate criticism of the israeli government lapses into outright anti—semitism. so someone walks down oxford street waving a palestinian flag and shouting "free palestine" — we would never consider that anti—semitic. it is obviously not. but if someone walks past a synagogue
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or walks through a heavily jewish neighbourhood, shouting "free palestine" at the jewish people on the street, in order to harassment and upset them, it takes on a completely different meaning and that is when you are seeing jewish people being targeted. anti—semitism is a type of racism. we do sometimes face a problem where some people don't recognise it as a type of racism and it doesn't quite get the attention and the opposition that it ought to get, especially from, kind of, self—declared anti—racist movements across a broad swathe of progressive politics. anti—semitism at schools and universities is complicated, and it is often tied to strong views about one tiny but hugely contentious place — israel. at bristol university, a professor allegedly made comments about israel whichjewish students say made them feel targeted. i'm meeting a student who tackled the situation head—on. broadly then, what were the controversial comments that he was making —
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what was it about? the key stuff was definitely the "jewish society was a pawn of the israeli state" because it was implying that sort of a bunch of students, like, under—18—year—olds at bristol were manufacturing complaints of anti—semitism to get rid of him. people thought this was a step over the line, sort of saying that the israeli state doesn't have a right to exist at all, in any form, i think a lot of people had an issue with, including myself. so what affect did his statements have on jewish students at the university? a lot of students are very concerned about being in his class, i think it also just created a generally quite hostile environment at bristol university. when i started the petition i got an e—mailfrom the electronic intifada who are a news blog, and they wrote an article me, examples of the comments i received — i was told to go die, "zionist scum", "dirty zio" — i have never received just the sheer volume of comments and anti—semitism before, so it did feel quite overwhelming just to have that number
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of people know who i was, possibly know where — well, know where i go to uni, possibly know where i live. do you think people view prejudice againstjews in a different way to how they perceive other kinds of prejudice? anti—semitism is complicated in the ways it manifests and it is often subtle, and i don't think people should be scared of asking questions. racism is sometimes hard to understand, it becomes a micro—aggression and subtlety. i don't think people intend often to say things that are anti—semitic or offensive. i often don't think people go out with the intention of hurting other people's feelings. david miller denies he was anti—semitic, nonetheless in october, after a two—year investigation, he was sacked by bristol university. david miller is appealing against his dismissal and i reached out to him for a response to the allegations but did not receive a supply. the situation highlights just how complicated conversations around israel can be. that is true even among jewish families. i didn't grow up in a particularly religious home but my parents have always made me feel proud about being jewish.
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i invited them overfor lunch to hear their points of view. door bell rings. hello, mum! come in. hello. you might recognize these mugs. thank you. i have had times when you've called me and told me that you felt frightened. what is it specifically you feel frightened of? you can't help but get distressed when people's views about a political situation bleed into the way they treat people in this country who are in no way responsible for that situation and whose views about that situation, you can't possibly know. when you'rejewish and you begin to see those sorts of prejudice, you think, yeah, yeah, we know what this is about, we have been here many, many times before. do you feel the same way? i don't feel personally threatened. i think this is a very balanced society and i think the majority of people would not buy into those kind of views.
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i wouldn't equate it with the sort of anti—semitism that existed, you know, in the 19th century in russia, or in the 19305 in germany. ijust don't think that british society could actually go there because the majority of people here are not anti—semitic. so i don't feel personally under threat. it is kind of interesting that mum feels it more keenly, but you feel it less keenly when you are the one whose history, personalfamily history, bears more scars of what happened in the 20th century, more of yourfamily, bluntly, were killed. i never met any of my grandparents, they all died in concentration camps. i had an uncle and cousin that died concentration camps, that i never knew. but i come from a family where we put it behind us. how fundamental is your jewishness to who you are?
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in my public life i think of myself as british. in my private life i'm jewish, i'm very stronglyjewish and i think a lot of my ethics are veryjewish. instinctively, i thinkjewish people as a minority, identify with other minorities. i think that will be one of the terrible things that might be the outcome of the rise in anti—semitism, we might become more inward looking, whereas i think it is part of our ethics to identify with other people and do whatever we can to support them. their difference of opinion actually demonstrates an important point. jews aren't some monolithic groups who think or feel or even look the same way. i'm meeting nadine, who is a black, jewish woman. i first heard about her last year
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when she called out anti—semitism on twitter. i think it was last year, you had an experience with wiley. yeah, he just went on twitter and was just said a lot of anti—semitic nonsense. and i basically responded to a lot of his tweets and said things like, "what you are saying is wrong, "jewish people don't hate black people," and i said, "i'm black and jewish i can tell you that is not the case." and then he responded saying, "you're not reallyjewish," and then he like followed me on twitter — i think it demonstrated the complexity of what it can be like being a jewish black person. or a black, jewish person — there's not first. what was the online space like in general for a person with your identity? oh, it is not good, a lot of the abuse that i tend to get is often directed at the fact that i am black. i get accused of me being a white supreme when i'm a jewish, black woman. and then on the other
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side of the fence, being accused of hating jewish people. whenever there is anything going on between israel and palestine, i could get things from accusing me that i want to kill palestinians to saying that i want to destroy israel, like, you just get ridiculous stuff. all racism is awful, point blank. do you think people, though, find it easier to understand racism directed towards people of colour than racism towards jews? yeah, i also think it is in part because anti—semitism in europe is so deeply ingrained. it is a lot easier to recognise if someone calls me the n—word or someone says something derogatory about my skin colour to know that it is racist. versus if someone makes a comment like "jews run the media," it is not as overt, in some ways. but i also think they manifest themselves differently. in the 21st century, you don't have the kind of structural, socio—economic, intergenerational inequality
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that you see within black communities, as the same in thejewish community. but that doesn't mean that the threat levels aren't serious. i just don't think people have a very solid understanding of what anti—semitism is, cos i don't think we're taught about it very well. we're on the way to meet a young lady who works as a nurse in an east london hospital and back in may, during the flare—up of the conflict, she had a fairly unpleasant experience while she was at work and i think what happened to her is quite a good demonstration of how complicated things can be when israel is in the news and how that affects jewish people living even in the uk. hello, how are you? nice to meet you. can you tell me a little bit about what you do — you're a nurse in east london? yeah so i'm a nurse in royal london hospital in whitechapel and i work on the neonatal intensive care ward,
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which is an intensive care ward for babies that are born too small, too soon or too sick. can you talk me through a little bit about the incident which happened to you on that day a few months ago? so i was downstairs in the prayer room, thejewish prayer room, praying the afternoon service and then made my way back upstairs to the eighth floor and got in the lift and two guys were in the lift and ijust see them look at me on one of them turns to me and said, "so do you not believe in a free palestine?" and i was like, "i'mjewish." he said something along the lines of how can they let someone who comes from people who kill innocent children work here? and i'm happy that he stumbled and fumbled until he actually
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said that to me because by the time he said that to me, the doors opened and i managed to get out. it all happened very quickly. obviously, it is petrifying. i am happy to discuss with someone their opinions and thoughts on the rallies of what was going on at the time and the conflicts — not in a very small lift with two big guys and just me without any emergency backup support. what was the first thing that the gents said to you in the lift? he asked me if i believed in free palestine. and what did you day in response to that? i just said, "i'm jewish." and what do you mean by that answer? well, it doesn't mean that i don't believe in a free palestine. it sort of means that i don't really want to get into this discussion with you but i think thatjust made it worse. and that is where it gets super—complicated because there are people who are really supportive of the free palestine movement who would say by entangling us even with the word "anti—semitism", it's a way — well, it's not a way — itjust does make it harder to express support for palestine without being accused of being anti—jewish. yeah, i mean, it's definitely
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not my area of expertise and not something that i can make huge comments about but what i do know is that i don't think that whatever is going on in the world in terms of the fighting, and "do you believe in this side?" "do you believe in that side?" that should not effect anyone�*s medical care that is happening and i would never use someone�*s belief or religion or ethnicity or anything to decide how i am going to treat them. the actions of the israeli government can be criticised in the same way as the governments of other countries. but the familiar pattern that jewish people around the world are made to feel unsafe when israel is in the news is disturbing. manyjews do feel an affinity with israel. but for some, it's more complicated. i want to talk to someone for whom israel is a part of theirjewish identity but who is also outspoken in their criticism. so i'm meeting up with francesca. she's part of a group of britishjewish activists who campaign against the actions of the israeli government.
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so we see what is happening between israel and palestine as a moral crisis. asjewish people, we have values that are about loving other people, hasad which means kindness, and we feel that the occupation goes directly against those values so therefore goes directly against ourjewish identities. i wanted to find a space where i did not feel like myjewish identity was at odds with being a moral person. the goal is to shift the britishjewish community support for the occupation to be completely anti—occupation. the kind of theory behind that being that there are various pillars that hold up the occupation, one of them being diaspora support. out of interest, have you ever been accused or has the movement ever been accused of being anti—semitic? yes, we do get a lot of backlash from more
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right—wing people and organisations. i think our feeling is that if we are ruffling feathers it kind of means that we are kind of putting out a good and challenging message that makes people think. have you had any anti—semitism come at you because of israel? yeah, i think often people who speak out against the occupation are seen as the good jew and are kind of posed as... it's like people want to grill you to understand if you are anti—occupation before kind of feeling they can accept you as a jewish person, in ethnic circles specifically. i personally have experienced people holding me to account in ways that i've found problematic. and i think that does happen and people do veer into that. but also we do have a responsibility as jewish people to speak up against atrocities
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in the world and this is one that we actually do have a closer sort of tie to. it doesn't ean that we should be held responsible for it as diaspora jews but i think speaking out against it is important. francesca spoke about being held to account over what happens in israel in a way that she found problematic. i want to speak directly to someone whose activism leads to accusations of anti—semitism so i am meeting up with two youtubers. back in may, they drove to a jewish community in london and filmed themselves challenging jewish people on the street. one of their videos, titled muslims confront radical israelis — all in caps — has wrapped up almost 300,000 views. on a sunday, you come, it is full with different speakers, right? i have never come to speaker's corner. different speakers but also people that come from the lay audience thatjust want to hear everything. it is quite interesting because it is very unpredictable. can be volatile.
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that's what people like. from your perspective, how does the discussion around israel affect how people think aboutjewish people? according to the definition of the british government on anti—semitism, which was published in 2016, one of the definitions of anti—semitism is when you hold jewish people responsible for the actions of the israeli government and i think doing that confliction puts at risk people being anti—semitic and so it is very important that if someone is an apologist for israel or for zionism that that should be outlines and delineated or otherwise completely separated from jewishness. isn't the title of your video, muslims confront radical israelis? isn't that doing exactly what you're saying shouldn't be done? conflating a group of jewish people in britain and calling them israelis?
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if someone identifies as an israeli supporter, an apologist or a pro—zionist, they have already shown their cards. what we're saying is there is a difference between israeli discourse or pro—israeli discourse. when we say that we mean those who are sympathetic or apologetic to the policies of the israeli government, the policies of blockade, the policies of settlement. if we decide to oppose these policies, that should never be conflated with anti—jewishness. if we're going have any discussion whatsoever, if it does not accumulate or generate some kind of controversy, usually we're talking about some mundane issue which isn't with talking about in the first place. specifically, that video, it did strike me as problematic in lots of ways and specifically the title of the video, muslims confront radical muslims confront radical israelis, was problematic and i think it was possibly a shock tactic headline in order to get more
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views in order to promote what is possibly — you want a harmonious message but do you not see how that is problematic? there is a different way of communicating? you are objecting to the term radical israelis. are there such things as radical iranians? are radical koreans? but i'm objecting to radical israelis because you went to speak to some fairly religious jewish people who are british people and you definitely don't know if they are israelis. they identified as such. i did not see a single person in that video identify themselves as an israeli. there was more than one video. you have to look at all of them. did any of them say my passport is... yes, they said, "we're dual nationals." that very much is not into the video. that's that video but there's a collection of videos. you have to look at all of them. how do you think we can promote a sense of harmony
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between different communities, specifically with the jewish community in mind? i think that we really need to just bring people together. if you look at where discrimination is at its highest, whether it's racial, whatever it may be, in different countries, you will find that it is usually in areas where people did not mix. a problem for both the muslim and jewish community has been — maybe you could argue — a lack of integration, a lack of mixing. what we need to do is we need to bring people together from different religions, let them play football or something, let them eat together, let them talk together and if there are disagreements, they should be fleshed out but they should be fleshed out in a healthy manner with an eye or an intention to try and create unity and promote civic coexistence. i definitely think that helping people understand one another better is an important part of dealing with prejudice but like nadine said, anti—semitism is something a lot of people don't really understand so it did not end with the end of the second world war and it definitely did not begin
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with the creation of the state of israel. there are spikes when israel is in the news but harmful stereotypes and racism is something which a lot ofjewish people are weary of almost all of the time. sometimes anti—semitism is really easy to recognise, it is those mad conspiracy theories about world domination or it's someone being beaten up simply for who they are but i think it is equally important to call out prejudice when it is subtle, because it can bejust as damaging. personally, i don't feel like we are in immediate danger of another holocaust but the point is that should not be the benchmark of whether things are ok or not. when we are in a situation where discrimination is normalised and people who say they feel unsafe are not being listened to, well, that is something i don't think any of us should
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be willing to accept. hello there. it's been a cold day today, we've had some rain, sleet and snow. some good spells of sunshine across the south. tomorrow looks similar, but there could be more in the way of sunshine along northern and western areas. most of the showers will be further east. this low pressure has been bringing the unsettled weather through today, sitting just to the northeast of the country, where we have seen the wettest of the weather and also some snow, but the blue colours show that that cold air is in place right across the uk, strong northwesterly winds have just accentuated the cold feel right across the board. through this evening and overnight it stays quite wet through central, northern and eastern areas with some
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snow over the hills. further west, a bit drier, clearer spells, lighter winds here so it could turn cold with a touch of frost and even ice where we've had the rain through today. tomorrow it looks like we will see a bit of a difference, this area of low pressure will affect the eastern side of the country. a ridge of high pressure will bring some drier weather to the west. it'll kill off most of the showers. there will still be a few showers around, particularly in wales, southwest england, but further east, quite wet, southeast scotland, parts of eastern england, a few of those showers getting in towards the midlands and the winds will be strongest here as well, closer to the low. further west slightly lighter winds. many parts of scotland and northern ireland will have a better day — quite cold but plenty of sunshine around. further east, it's also going to feel cold with showers and that strong northeasterly breeze. through sunday night, the showers fizzle away and it turns cold and clear for a while then the next frontal system sweeps in,
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a band of rain with snow across the hills in scotland and the pennines. temperatures will be coming up towards the end of the night so that will mostly revert back to rain. this frontal system crosses the country on monday, another cold air mass behind it, brisk northwest winds and plenty of showers. the rain spreads its way eastwards. it could be heavy and persistent for a time, eventually the snow clears away from the northern hills. then it is brighter into the afternoon with sunshine and showers. these showers will be blustery, heavy in the northwest and turning increasingly wintry once again as it turns colder, but still fairly mild across the far southwest. then for tuesday and wednesday, it could turn very unsettled. we could be looking at a very deep area of low pressure moving in off the atlantic, which could bring us a spell of very windy weather. yeah.
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the government tightens covid—testing rules for travellers coming to the uk. passengers will have to take a test before their departure from abroad in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. we've always said we will act swiftly if we need to, if the changing data requires that, and that's why i've decided to bring in this change on predeparture tests.
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and nigeria will be added to the red list of countries

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